Ukraine and the West: united we stand?

What were the main objectives of Russian leader President Putin when he embarked on his support for pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine? Did they go beyond territory and aim to create - or increase - divisions between Western countries? And if so, has this strategy worked? NATO Review asks some leading security figures how they saw it.

Full video transcript

Ukraine and the West:

united we stand?

What were the real motives

behind Russian president

Vladimir Putin’s moves in Ukraine?

Was Crimea

a straightforward land grab

or was it more complex than that?

And are the manoeuvres

in Eastern Ukraine simply a means

of sowing division in the West?

He does not miss any opportunity to...

...place some kind of a stick

into potential fractions

in the Atlantic cooperation

and we should be careful here

not to offer him more opportunities

to divide us. We have to stay united.

Regardless of what

Putin’s initial objectives were,

it's clear that he's already achieved

several strategic Russian objectives.

He certainly achieved

his first objectives.

One, he has secured

a major warm water naval base,

which is hugely important

to Russian defence strategy.

Second, he has

destabilised the regime in Ukraine.

Third, he has also

demonstrated his commitment

to a sense of ancient Russianness.

Ukraine does play

an important part in Russia’s identity

and we should

not be unaware of that.

And fourth,

he has kept the rest of Europe

and the Alliance off balance.

I wouldn’t say that we are split,

but we are off balance.

How much were the divisions

in the West already there?

And how much were they created

by these latest Putin activities?

That’s a great question.

I don’t know that you can give

Putin credit for all of that.

He has certainly made it

his business to try to do that.

And I think you can see

in effect that there are

wider differences now

among allies in political approach,

not necessarily assessment,

but recommended policy,

than there have been for a long time.

I would describe this as a...

Forgetting how to do deterrence.

There is disagreement over whether

he has caused divisions in the West.

Some see his actions

as having a longer-term benefit

for Western countries and alliances.

No, he failed miserably.

He created an internal debate, I think,

within the Atlantic Alliance broadly

and within the European Union

and within the Alliance itself

that probably would

never have been had

if all we were going to talk

about in October of this year,

was going to be how ISAF will end

and how we’ll have a theoretical

conversation about Article 5.

He took the theory about that debate

about Article 5 off the table.

What’s clear

is that the NATO summit in Wales

provides an opportunity to send

a strong message to President Putin.

This will be key, as nobody knows

what moves he plans next.

If there is no very clear message

in Wales in September,

before that, after that,

and Russia continues

moving forward,

tomorrow it may

be Transnistria, Chisinau,

maybe Kiev, maybe Tbilisi.

So, this is a challenge from Putin,

since he took over the Crimea.

But this is only one side of the coin.

Another side of the coin, we should

give in-depth consideration

about what Putin

is thinking about now.

President Putin understands

the language of strength.

This is why he has increased

the defence budget,

launching a ten-year

723 billion dollar programme

to modernise Russia’s armed forces.

Some suggest that the only way

to respond to Putin,

is to speak to him

in a language he understands.

In dealing with Russia, I think,

we should keep in mind

this famous Teddy Roosevelt

sentence, you know:

Speak softly, but carry a big stick.

Ukraine and the West:

united we stand?

What were the real motives

behind Russian president

Vladimir Putin’s moves in Ukraine?

Was Crimea

a straightforward land grab

or was it more complex than that?

And are the manoeuvres

in Eastern Ukraine simply a means

of sowing division in the West?

He does not miss any opportunity to...

...place some kind of a stick

into potential fractions

in the Atlantic cooperation

and we should be careful here

not to offer him more opportunities

to divide us. We have to stay united.

Regardless of what

Putin’s initial objectives were,

it's clear that he's already achieved

several strategic Russian objectives.

He certainly achieved

his first objectives.

One, he has secured

a major warm water naval base,

which is hugely important

to Russian defence strategy.

Second, he has

destabilised the regime in Ukraine.

Third, he has also

demonstrated his commitment

to a sense of ancient Russianness.

Ukraine does play

an important part in Russia’s identity

and we should

not be unaware of that.

And fourth,

he has kept the rest of Europe

and the Alliance off balance.

I wouldn’t say that we are split,

but we are off balance.

How much were the divisions

in the West already there?

And how much were they created

by these latest Putin activities?

That’s a great question.

I don’t know that you can give

Putin credit for all of that.

He has certainly made it

his business to try to do that.

And I think you can see

in effect that there are

wider differences now

among allies in political approach,

not necessarily assessment,

but recommended policy,

than there have been for a long time.

I would describe this as a...

Forgetting how to do deterrence.

There is disagreement over whether

he has caused divisions in the West.

Some see his actions

as having a longer-term benefit

for Western countries and alliances.

No, he failed miserably.

He created an internal debate, I think,

within the Atlantic Alliance broadly

and within the European Union

and within the Alliance itself

that probably would

never have been had

if all we were going to talk

about in October of this year,

was going to be how ISAF will end

and how we’ll have a theoretical

conversation about Article 5.

He took the theory about that debate

about Article 5 off the table.

What’s clear

is that the NATO summit in Wales

provides an opportunity to send

a strong message to President Putin.

This will be key, as nobody knows

what moves he plans next.

If there is no very clear message

in Wales in September,

before that, after that,

and Russia continues

moving forward,

tomorrow it may

be Transnistria, Chisinau,

maybe Kiev, maybe Tbilisi.

So, this is a challenge from Putin,

since he took over the Crimea.

But this is only one side of the coin.

Another side of the coin, we should

give in-depth consideration

about what Putin

is thinking about now.

President Putin understands

the language of strength.

This is why he has increased

the defence budget,

launching a ten-year

723 billion dollar programme

to modernise Russia’s armed forces.

Some suggest that the only way

to respond to Putin,

is to speak to him

in a language he understands.

In dealing with Russia, I think,

we should keep in mind

this famous Teddy Roosevelt

sentence, you know:

Speak softly, but carry a big stick.

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